Movement against the location of the Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisboa, Portugal

Environmental movements presented data in favor of alternative routes to build the bridge. The debate around the use of public transport and railways expanded.


In 1991, the Government of Portugal created a new department for managing the construction of the new crossing of the Tagus River at Lisbon called GATTEL. The office identified three potential corridors for the new road bridge: eastern (Sacavém-Montijo), central (Chelas-Barreiro), and western (Algés-Trafaria).

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Basic Data
NameMovement against the location of the Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisboa, Portugal
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesTransport services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIt is the longest main bridge in Europe (including viaducts) with a total length of 17.2 kilometres (10.7 mi)), including 0.8 kilometres (0.50 mi) for the main bridge, 11.5 kilometres (7.1 mi) in viaducts, and 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) in dedicated access roads.

The $1.1bn project was split in four parts, each one built by a different company, and supervised by an independent consortium. There were up to 3,300 workers simultaneously on the project, which took 18 months of preparation and 18 months of construction.
Project Area (in hectares)17,2 km
Level of Investment (in USD)1,107,650,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date01/01/1991
Company Names or State EnterprisesConsórsio Lusoponte (Lusoponte) from Portugal
Relevant government actorsGabinete de Travessia do Tejo em Lisboa (GATTEL)

Comissão de Acompanhamento da Obra (CAO)

Ministérios do Planejamento, Ambiente, Indústria, Emprego, da Defesa e da Justiça
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociação de Montijo e Alcochete para a Defesa da Qualidade de Vida (AMA)

Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza (Quercus)

Grupo de Estudo de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente (GEOTA)

Instituto Dom Dinis (IDD)

Liga de Proteção da Natureza (LPN)

World Wild Fund For Nature (WWF)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Noise pollution
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesEnvironmental movements presented data that favored other corridors to build the bridge. The debate around the use of public transport and railways expanded.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The route in which the bridge was built was the one contested by the NGOs. However, the intervention by them helped expand their participation in decision-making process and in the construction monitoring committee, which allowed them to directly challenge the actions and omissions as to the EIA.
Sources and Materials

GARCIA, José, L.; SUBTIL, Filipa. Conflito social e ambiental – a ponte Vasco da Gama. Análise Social, v. 33, p. 707-746, 1998.
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MELO, João Joanaz. The Vasco da Gama Bridge on the Tagus Estuary: A paradigm of bad decision making, but good postevaluation, World Transport Policy & Practice. Volume 6, n.2. 2000
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LUSA. Ponte Vasco da Gama foi construída há 10 anos. Jornal Público. Nacional, 25 de Março de 2008.
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PAeM – Vídeos sobre as pontes do rio Tejo
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Media Links


Vasco da Gama bridge
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Other Documents

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File:Vasco da Gama Bridge 03.JPG Vasco da Gama Bridge in Portugal. WIKIPEDIA. Photographer: Osvaldo Gago
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Meta Information
ContributorFrancisco Fernandes, Inês Ribeiro and Sofia Bento
Last update18/04/2018